Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 8th 2013 Contents A16
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday, October 8, 2013
MONTEGO BAY---Antigua and Barbuda Attorney
General Justin L Simon has urged Caribbean leaders
to approach the decriminalisation of marijuana with
Simon, speaking with the T&T Guardian in an
exclusive interview in Montego Bay, Jamaica on Friday,
said the issue was one that warrants attention, but it
should not be done without proper considerations.
"It is a serious issue that has been looked at by the
Government of Antigua and Barbuda. Personally I
think it is a matter that demands a certain amount
of attention given what we know is happening in the
region. What I would hate to see is a carte blanche
decriminalisation," he said.
Last month St Vincent Prime Minister Dr Ralph
Gonsalves wrote to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-
Bissessar, who is the Caribbean Community (Caricom)
chair, calling for a discussion on the medicinal and
other uses of marijuana.
She has since said that no decision was taken on
the issue of decriminalising marijuana in the region.
She added that more research was needed.
At the opening of the law term last month, Chief
Justice Ivor Archie also raised the issue of decrimi-
nalising the use of marijuana in small quantities.
Simon said he had some concerns with respect to
people who smoke for the fun of it in small quantities.
However, he said it may be the first step that could
be looked at by regional governments.
"But in terms of the sale, importation or exportation
I would have some issues in that regard," he said.
Simon said it has been 12 years since Antigua and
Barbuda won its protracted online gaming dispute
with the US and it was yet to collect its multi-million
award from a World Trade Organisation (WTO) order.
However, he said Antigua and Barbuda was not
giving up on the money and was currently weighing
its options to be able to collect on its award.
According to the WTO report Antigua and Barbuda
was awarded US$21 million per annum by a WTO
arbitrator who ruled in its favour at the end of the
trade dispute appeal against the US. The dispute
between the US and Antigua and Barbuda began in
Simon, said he was currently chairing a committee
that was reviewing the legal steps available to the
country to get its payment.
He admitted that the US government has been
unwilling to meet with Antigua and Barbuda on the
"The US has not yet budged. We have sought to
have meetings with them to see how far they would
go in terms of making certain concessions with respect
to payments, but that has not been successful. We
have formed a committee under my chairmanship to
look seriously at enforcement, in terms of the copyright
issues, and we have advised the state department that
it is along those lines that we are proceeding," he said.
He said Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer had a one
on one meeting on the issue with US Vice President
Joe Biden during his visit in Trinidad, in May.
Simon said Biden had promised he would have
looked into the matter.
"We have not heard anything further," he said.
Simon, who was on private business in Montego
Bay, told the Guardian that his committee was in the
process of reviewing at domestic legislation to determine
if there was a need to make amendments.
"We are also looking at the international conventions
to ensure that we do not do anything that is contrary
to our own international obligations. These are matters
that we are going to bring to the attention of Cabinet
so that Cabinet makes the final determination on the
matter," he said.
Simon said the situation was "rather unfor-
tunate because that is a matter that has been
almost 12 years pending."
However, he said Antigua and Barbuda
was "not sitting idly by" and was getting
assistance and advice from Brazil which has
had a very similar experience with the US.
Simon admitted that when one considers
the Brazilian economy and what it means to
the US in terms of trade, Antigua and Barbuda
was in a "very weakened position."
He said, "It is only legitimate to demand
what is ours, bearing in mind that the matter
has not only gone through the initial process
of arbitration but the appeal process and we
have won. There is no reason why the US
should not be meeting with us to bring this
matter to some conclusion."
Antigua and Barbuda Attorney General
Justin L Simon
PHOTO: RESHMA RAGOONATH
Approach with caution
Antigua and Barbuda AG on decriminalising marijuana:
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